Coming from a 3rd world country where computer education came somewhat late, as we had long graduated form college, I want to believe that Certification exams and the certificates are the only respite we have viz-a-viz the demands of the industries.
I have worked as a banker for 12 yrs during which I switched from line banking to IT where I rose trough the ranks to become one of the banks top Computer Implementation officers and later Systems Analysts. Plus, I single-handedly computerized more than 25 branches of the bank during my career. I achieved all these feats without any paper qualification on IT/ICT!
When I came across NCSA, I took their online exam and got good grades. With my NCSA certificate I received job offers in Japan and New Zealand! I now work as an ICT consultant and am highly respected in the field.
I know that University degree is good, but it's not the degree that gets the job done but you. You can go to the University and obtain degrees but you cannot obtain experience there. Also you may be able to buy your way through obtaining a degree but you cannot buy experience.
While with the bank, my first academically qualified assistant that was employed and deployed to my department had a Masters Degree in CS, but with his degree he knew nothing about Xenix OS or Xenix operations, he knew nothing about IMOS V, Could not operate in a Unix environment! Heck, he knew nothing about C++!
I still want to believe that the certification work for some people, depending on where you come from. The NCSA online exams has 30+ questions, each of which must be answered within 90 seconds! Even if you sit by your console with your note book you cannot cheat! Before you can flip to an answer it would already be time-up!